Saturday, 22 June 2013

'Whose lovely little girl are you?'

Sabine Baring-Gould once said to a little girl at a children's party: 'Tell me, whose lovely little girl are you?' She replied: 'Whose lovely little girl am I? Why yours, papa.'  

I sympathise. I have a bad memory for faces too. 

I researched Baring-Gould more on the net - how wonderful to have ones own university library in a small box perched on a table in my sitting-room - and discovered on a BBC page these interesting details that I did not know about the author of Onward Christian Soldiers.

The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould is best known for writing the hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers. But he is also thought to have inspired his friend George Bernard Shaw to write Pygmalion - which was later made into the film, My Fair Lady.He took Holy Orders in 1864 and became a curate at Horbury in Yorkshire.It was in Horbury that he met mill girl Grace Taylor. He sent her away to be educated and then married her in 1868.The couple were married for 48 years until Grace's death in 1916 and they had 15 children! However Baring-Gould appears to have had little understanding of his offspring. Apparently at a children's party one evening he called to a young child "And whose little girl are you?" The child burst into tears and said "I'm yours Daddy".

Baring Gould wrote Onward Christian Soldiers while at Horbury, and was amazed at its popularity.He said he had dashed the words off in no more than 10 minutes as an occasional piece for a procession of school children.

He returned to Lewtrenchard in 1881, where he was the squire and parson.It's believed he had more than 200 works published, but the thing he was most proud of was his collection of folk songs from Devon and Cornwall, called 'Songs of the West.'

He spent 12 years travelling in the two counties, learning the songs from old singers and then publishing them.


  1. I like this Post. I'm going to dwell upon it for

  2. It is possible that a man who has fifteen children, particular-
    ly in those days may not recognize one of his children at one or another time. He had his duties and the mother of his children had hers. Also he may have said this as many fathers
    might playfully say this to their child. It's a good little
    story though.

  3. This story is surely ben trovato. I've heard it many times before, but I don't believe it, even if Baring-Gould did have 24 children.

  4. I only heard it of SBG in an introduction to one of his books. That is only the second time I came across the phrase 'ben trovato', except when using it myself. The first time was an Open Univ lecturer saying that a student complained when he used it. The student said, 'Ben who?' I thought the phrase so gloriously magniloquent that I decided to adopt it but have only used it once or twice.

  5. My great-grandmother, whom I remember, was one of 26.

  6. One set of my friend's grandparents adopted three children then
    had twelve natural children. It all turned out okay.